During his four years as coach, Hawies Fourie worked hard to re-establish a winning culture at Maties Rugby.
Fourie resigned as Maties Rugby coach at the end of the season in favour of a coaching job with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. Drikus Hancke took over as Maties' new coach.
Fourie – himself a former Matie – joined Maties at the end of 2015. At that stage, Maties had last won the Varsity Cup competition in 2010. There was significant pressure on the club to up its game.
Fourie was an important ingredient in the recipe used to create a resurgence at Maties Rugby.
“We put in a lot of effort to return Maties to its former glory," says he.
In his four years as coach, Maties played in four Varsity Cup finals, winning the title twice. The team also played in four USSA finals, winning two of them. They also claimed several Western Province club league titels.
It wasn't an easy journey.
“The disappointment of our defeat in front of our home crowd in the 2016 Varsity Cup final was huge. That game, as well as our defeat to UP-Tuks in the 2017 final, made us even more determined to work harder and to improve. The victories on home soil in 2018 and 2019 were therefore even more special," remembers Fourie.
Fourie had many opportunities to create memories during his time at Maties.
“I grew as a person and as a coach. I had the privilege to work with some awesome people and players.
“There were many highlights on the field. I will always remember the 2018 and 2019 Varsity Cup finals. It was very special to convincingly beat the strong teams of Pukke and Tuks, respectively. But winning is not the only thing that matters. The quality of rugby, the camaraderie in the team and the quality of the people in our management team will always stay with me.
“Many positive things happened off the field every year. As coach I'm always proud when our Maties players move forward with their careers and perform well on a higher level. Since 2016, 12 Maties have played either SuperRugby of Pro14 rugby and 22 players have played in the Currie Cup competition."
He also referred to the international success of Janco Venter and Kyle Steyn. Venter was part of Namibia's group at the Rugby World Cup and Steyn was called up to the Scottish team's training squad.
Ask any player and he will tell you that Fourie had a great impact on the culture of the Maties Rugby Club.
“Under the leadership of Braam Venter (former Maties player) we set out what it means to be a Matie. We took the word 'Matie' and gave meaning to each letter. The leaders in the team ensured that the players embodied these values and the process was therefore driven internally."
Fourie has a few last words for those staying behind.
“I want to thank every member of our management team for his or her positive attitude and contribution. It was an honour working with you. I know the Club is in good hands and will go from strength to strength.
“To all the players who put in the hard work on the field and in the gym – thank you for the opportunity to get to know you and to walk this road with you. May all your dreams come true.
“Professor (Mohammed) Karaan (President of the Maties Rugby Club), good luck with everything you are planning for Maties Rugby.
“Lastly, to all our loyal supporters. I'm going to miss the spirit and the noise in the Danie Craven stadium on Monday evenings. You are the best in South Africa."